Turkey paved the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO

MADRID – NATO leaders will formally invite Finland and Sweden to join the alliance on Wednesday after Turkey lifts its veto over their membership, the NATO Secretary-General said late evening. Third, clear the way for what will be one of the alliance’s most significant expansions in decades.

The historic agreement, which follows Turkey’s agreement on a memorandum of understanding with the two Nordic countries, highlights how the war in Ukraine has backfired on President Vladimir V. Putin, undermining his efforts. Russia aims to weaken NATO and push Sweden and Finland, two neutral and unaligned nations for decades, into the alliance’s arms.

After weeks of talks, capped by a multi-hour meeting in Madrid, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to lift Sweden and Finland’s membership in exchange for a series of actions. and promised that they would act against terrorism and terrorist organizations.

“As NATO allies, Finland and Sweden are committed to fully support Turkey against threats to its national security,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, providing a number of details of the agreement. “This includes further amending their domestic laws, blocking PKK activities and signing an agreement with Turkey on extradition,” he added, referring to the Kurdistan Workers Party. seeking an independent Kurdish state on the territory partially within the borders of Turkey.

Mr. Erdogan has blocked NATO bids by Nordic countries amid concerns about Sweden’s long-standing support for the PKK which has attacked non-military targets and killed civilians in Turkey, located in Turkey. outlawed in that country and designated a terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union.

However, the memorandum does not specify the extradition of any of the 45 people Mr Erdogan is wanted to Turkey to face terrorism charges. Sweden has passed tougher anti-terrorism laws effective July 1.

Both Finland and Sweden have not been militarily linked for many years, but decided to apply to join the alliance after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. With Russia attacking a neighbour, both countries felt vulnerable, although Sweden, with its long tradition of neutrality, was more hesitant.

Russian President Putin has warned both countries against joining NATO, but his threats backfired.

The two countries bring geostrategic benefits to the alliance. Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia and has a well-equipped modern army; Sweden can control the entrance to the Baltic Sea, which will greatly help NATO in its plan to defend the more vulnerable countries in Eastern Europe.

The final attempt to resolve the dispute began early Tuesday morning, when President Biden called Erdogan to urge him to “seize the moment” ahead of the summit, according to a senior administration official. apex, to enable discussions on other topics. with the knowledge of the discussion.

The official, who requested anonymity to discuss private discussions, said the president conveyed the contents of his conversation with Erdogan to the leaders of Finland and Sweden. And after hours of negotiations that night, the two Nordic leaders conferred with Mr. Biden again before announcing the deal with Turkey.

The US official said that the agreement between Turkey and the two Nordic countries involved a series of compromises on both sides, including a statement by Turkey welcoming Finland and Sweden to apply and related issues. regarding the arms embargo imposed on Turkey and Turkey’s belief that Finland and Sweden have provided safe havens for groups it considers terrorists.

US officials for days downplayed Mr Biden’s role in the negotiations, saying he would not act as a broker between other countries and insisting that resolving their differences was up to them. into Turkey, Finland and Sweden.

After the deal was announced Tuesday night, the senior administration official acknowledged that publicly minimizing Biden’s involvement was seen as more diplomatic. Doing so prevents Turkey from seeking concessions from the United States for agreeing to lift its veto, which could complicate discussions, the official said.

The next steps for Finland and Sweden are clear: NATO will vote on Wednesday to accept their applications. There will also be a quick study of their defense capabilities and needs. However, negotiations are expected to take place on a regular basis, as both countries are NATO partners and have exercised alongside NATO allies.

The more difficult final step requires the legislatures of all 30 existing members to vote to amend the treaty that established NATO to accept the new members. Previously, this had taken up to a year, but is expected to be much faster for the Nordic countries.

The US Senate is currently pushing for hearings on the application, and Mr. Biden is a firm supporter of new members.

Johanna Lemola Contribution report from Helsinki, Finland.

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